Applause echoed throughout Ted Mann Concert Hall on Saturday as four dance teams stomped, clapped and chanted into the night.
The dancers, including members of two University of Minnesota fraternities, showcased stepping — a percussive dance style.
Members of two historically black fraternities, Kappa Alpha Psi and Phi Beta Sigma, danced in the Midwest Greek Step Show in hopes of making multicultural greek organizations more visible on campus.
Profit Idowu, Phi Beta Sigma president, said the step show is important for showcasing multicultural fraternities and sororities on campus, because they aren’t always well-known.
“We do a lot of innovative things that go unseen and sometimes get pushed behind the curtains,” he said.
Event organizer Delphanie Daniels said the annual step show helps shed a positive light on multicultural greek organizations.
In the Twin Cities area and across the state, Daniels said, multicultural greek life isn’t heavily promoted. She said the step show helps feature those groups and their past.
“It shows the history of how African Americans came together to serve the community when we were not considered worthy enough,” she said.
Another goal of the step show, Daniels said, is motivating Twin Cities youth to attend college.
“We live in a time where going to college is not [optional] anymore,” she said. “I want to show that these are the wonderful opportunities that can be presented to you if you go to college.”
This year’s event is the first time the University’s Black Student Union has partnered with step show organizers.
BSU president Amber Jones said the partnership was discussed in the past but only became a reality this year.
“We wanted it to be an opportunity for the BSU and students of color and for this community to support the greeks,” she said.
A rich history
Stepping began in the mid-1900s when historically black greek organizations started combining multiple styles of dance into one percussive, unified style.
“It’s one of many creative forms of expression we have used as a community to uplift and empower ourselves,” Jones said.
Idowu said stepping has become an important form of expression for multicultural greek organizations.
“It signifies passion, brotherhood and is an interesting way to convey a deeper connection through dance,” he said.
In the future, Idowu said, he hopes to see the Multicultural Greek Council, which governs campus multicultural greek organizations, become more active. He said this will give “a new life” to the University community.
“Once we realize we’re just as entitled to holding big homecoming week events or Spring Jam events,” he said, “we’ll be able to do a lot of fun and innovative things that the University of Minnesota hasn’t seen before.”